Arizona is one of the latest and greatest states in the U.S., the 48th official American state, despite being 3rd on the alphabetical list. Since then, Arizona has adopted a couple of different nicknames, the official one being the Grand Canyon state, which it has been officially known for since 2011, which the state officially adopted (after some controversy) in 2011.

Despite the controversy over Arizona’s official nickname, it started stamping “Grand Canyon State” on its license plates in 1940 and has been doing so ever since!

From 1959 to 2011, it essentially had no “official” nickname and was previously known as the Baby State because it was the last state admitted into the U.S. (not including Alaska or Hawaii). Despite all of this, residents of Arizona have known it as the Grand Canyon State since the 1940s.

Why is Arizona the grand canyon state

With most state nicknames, there are tons of theories and popular beliefs as to how they were adopted and where they came from, without there being necessarily a right or wrong answer. However, Arizona’s nickname is a pretty logical one to figure out the origins of.

The famous grand canyon resides within the state of Arizona, which has provided a huge influx of tourism to the state over the past several decades.

  • Many ask – what is the significance of the grand canyon?
  • How did this huge canyon form?

We will be diving into the grand canyon state in much more detail so you can learn all about it and the origins of the Grand Canyon’s iconic status.

Why is Arizona the Grand Canyon State

Typically there are many reasons and theories as to why certain state nicknames were adopted. With Arizona’s nickname, there is only one reason and logical explanation – the grand canyon is situated within the famous grand canyon national park, which was the 13th national park to be discovered in the United States, on February 26, 1919.

Since the national park was discovered, and subsequently, the giant canyon, many tourists from around the world have been visiting the famous park, with an estimated 5 million tourists coming to the state per year to feast their eyes on the incredible Grand Canyon!

The grand canyon is one of the “Seven Wonders of the World” and has featured in an abundance of different movies over the years. It has literally become an iconic backdrop and has featured in many popular movies over the years, such as:

  • Fools Rush In
  • National Lampoon’s Vacation
  • Transformers
  • Thelma and Louise
  • Into the Wild
  • Waking up Reno
  • Nurse Betty, and many more.

Here are some interesting facts about the grand canyon that you may not have heard of.

  • Grand Canyon National Park is larger than the entire state of Rhode Island, at 1,904 square miles, with Rhode Island only being 1,212 square miles.
  • Due to the canyon’s unique size and shape, the grand canyon can experience its own unique weather conditions.
  • The canyon contains over 1,000 different caves, with only 335 being recorded.
  • The grand canyon is over 6 million years old.
  • The most dangerous animal to reside in the park is the rock squirrel.
  • If you visit the grand canyon, you are not allowed to take anything natural out of the park, which includes anything from rocks to plants and flowers.

We have noted that there is only one main nickname for Arizona when it officially became the Grand Canyon state in 2011. However, there is another unofficial nickname that some people call the state, and that is The Copper State. Why is that?

Well, Arizona has an abundance of this mineral, and the reference pays homage to its historical success with copper and silver mining. Copper is abundant in many places around the world, but it is fairly easy to mine in Arizona due to the copper-rich granite that has formed in ancient volcanoes.

The state, over many years, has taken full advantage of this and accounts for approximately 65% of the country’s copper production. This is largely generated from the 10 major copper mines in the state, which produce 23 to 632 million pounds of copper per year.